The 2019 European Parliamentary elections represent an important milestone as Europe and its citizens are facing several unprecedented challenges, from climate change to Euroscepticism, along with biodiversity loss, plastic filled oceans and Brexit.
While it is unfortunate, we cannot solve everything at once. We all, however, have a role to play, and IFAW wishes to contribute in preserving iconic species on land and sea and making sure threats to wildlife and marine conservation are tackled. We are therefore putting forward our manifesto for these elections in which we present the different priorities we believe the European Union (EU) and the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) should focus on in the years ahead. IFAW’s Manifesto focuses on six priorities: wildlife trafficking, ivory trade, wildlife cybercrime, animal confiscations, impact of marine shipping and marine mammals’ bycatch.
The European Parliament has already been the primary institution translating the desires of European citizens for improved animal welfare into concrete measures such as the EU Seal ban, support for the EU Wildlife Trafficking Action Plan and marine legislation aimed at improving the quality of our seas. The fact is that European policies can have far-reaching, if not global, impacts.
But more needs to be done.
Why? Because wildlife crime, for example, is a threat to peace and often converges with other serious crimes such as terrorism, corruption and financial crime. It is the fourth largest illegal global trade, after drugs, counterfeiting, and human trafficking, and is often perpetrated by organised criminal groups and worth an estimated 8 to 20 billion Euros annually.
The EU is widely considered the third largest destination for illegal wildlife but also an important transit and source region for illegal wildlife products, ivory included. At least 20,000 elephants are killed every year for their ivory, and a strong position from the EU on this issue is critical if the largest living land mammal is to have reasonable prospects for survival. This is the reason why IFAW has been campaigning for the EU to restrict and regulate it ivory domestic markets.
Under the sea, cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) face more diverse and complex threats today than ever before. Ship strikes and underwater noise pollution are complicated issues both seriously affecting marine conservation. At the European level, underwater noise has yet to be satisfactorily addressed as a recent report from IFAW highlighted, despite having been recognized as a source of marine pollution and a threat by the United Nations.
Speak up for those that cannot speak for themselves: vote for a future where people and animals peacefully coexist together.